Do You Feel Let Down By Your Physical Therapist – 7 Signs You Need To Switch

Do you feel disappointed, unsatisfied,or frustrated with how you are (or have been) treated by your physical therapist?

Are you unhappy with the results you are getting…or not getting?

 

If so, you NEED to continue reading this article to help you make a better decision about your health and ultimately, help you get back to doing what you love.

Many times, when people aren’t treated well by their physical therapist or don’t get the outcome they are looking for, they write off physical therapy altogether and say “PT didn’t work for me.” This could lead you (and your physician) to believe that medications, surgery, injections, etc. are the answer for you….and that’s not necessarily true.

What I want to make very clear is that all physical therapists are not the same and PT could very well be the answer to your problem…you just need to find the right one. To put it another way, if you went to the movies and didn’t like the movie, would you say you are never going to the movies again…of course not! Instead you would try to pick a better movie to go see.

And I don’t want you to blame yourself for not being treated well. Most people don’t know the difference between a good and bad physical therapist…actually, most people don’t even know what a physical therapist does.

So what I want to do for you is help you figure out if you need to change the physical therapist you are seeing and get you on the right track:

7 Signs You Need To Switch Physical Therapists

1.  You are not treated like a person, instead like just another body/number on the schedule

This a hard feeling to describe on paper, but I’m sure many of you are nodding your heads right now, saying “I know what you mean.” If you feel like you are just being “processed through the system” – this is what I’m talking about.  If,when you called to make an appointment, you were asked 10 questions about your insurance and contact info and nothing about you and your current problem…again, this is what I’m trying to describe here.

It essentially comes down to do you think your physical therapist cares about you as a person or just another slot on their schedule as a way to make more money.

One of the core values of Modern Sports Physical Therapy is “People First, Patients Second” – this is how I would expect to be treated somewhere and how we treat our patients.

2.  No progress seen

This one seems obvious, yet a lot of people continue going to see their therapist without seeing any significant progress.  And I’m not just talking about progress with your pain, but also progress towards your ultimate goal(s) – what you want to be able to accomplish as a result of PT.

The vast majority of people should see some progress within the first 2-3 treatments – many of our patients even see progress after the first visit. Be mindful of the fact that most times the first few treatments are geared towards clearing up your pain so that the next chunk of visits can focus on the underlying problem.

So not only should you be progressing, but your therapist should also be progressing/adapting their treatments for you…which brings me to #3:

3. Same exact treatment every session

Unfortunately, many times a patient will not make any progress in the first 2-3 treatments and yet the therapist will still perform the same exact treatment again and again. This make no sense and some would add that this is the definition of crazy – doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

Your therapist should alter and/or progress their treatments with you as you progress (or don’t progress). Not doing so would be a disservice to you.

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4.  Doesn't take time to truly listen to your concerns and/or goals

This goes along with #1, but it's worth mentioning separately because it's the real reason you chose to see a physical therapist - to get you back to the things you want to be able to do/enjoy.  And unfortunately this problem is all too common in the medical world - you wait in an office 10x longer than the time you actually spend with the physician.

If your therapist didn't take the time to actually listen to your complaints and what you want to achieve with physical therapy, then they are just doing whatever they think you need and not what you really need.  The most effective treatment plans (and outcomes) occur when there is a thorough understanding of a patient's problem, complaints, goals, etc.

5.  No plan to get you back to doing what you love

A lot of times, all a therapist cares about is getting you out of pain...but that's not what physical therapy is all about and not why you came to PT (otherwise you would have just taken some medication to numb the pain).

Just trying to eliminate your pain isn't that hard to do, but addressing the underlying problem and constructing a treatment plan to return you to doing the things you love to do takes a thorough understand of the patient, a comprehensive evaluation, and the knowledge/skills to put it all together.

And if you couldn't tell already, many of these "signs" interconnect with each other.  In this case, if your therapist didn't treat you like a person and take the time to listen to your concerns/goals, then there is no way they could possibly develop the right plan for you.

6.  Passive treatments make up most of your treatment

First, I want to clarify what I mean by passive treatments.  These are the things that you and the therapist are basically just sitting there doing nothing - ice, heat, stim, ultrasound, traction, etc.  If a majority of your treatment is taken up by things like this, there are much better options out there for you to get your problem solved.

Here is a typical example that, unfortunately, is all too common in our field (and hopefully not what happens to you) - a patient comes in and sits on heat for 10 minutes, then they get an ultrasound for 5 minutes, then 5 minutes of a general massage, then ride the bike for 10 minutes, and finally get passed off to an aide to do some exercises for 15 minutes, and then gets 15 minutes of ice/stim at the end.  So this person spends 30 minutes of their session just sitting there passively, and 25 minutes doing exercises with someone other than their therapist supervising them.

This is not the type of physical therapy that is going to give you the natural, long-term relief you are looking and DEFINITELY not the type of treatment we provide at Modern Sports Physical Therapy.  Our treatments are 1-on-1 for a full 60 minutes and have been described as "very hands-on" and "very educational."

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7.  Your therapist spends 10-15 minutes with you and passes you off to lesser qualified staff

I touched upon this in #6, but, again, this is worth highlighting.  It's all too common for physical therapy clinics to book patients every 15 minutes - some even 2 every 15 minutes (and that doesn't take into account therapists who overbook their schedule).  This means that these therapists are juggling ~4 patients at a time and their attention is divided among them.  If you're seeing a therapist that does this, you know exactly what I'm talking about...and how it makes you feel.  Remember, your co-pay is the same regardless of how much time the therapist spends with you.

And I want to make you aware that not all PT clinics are set up like this.  Here at Modern Sports PT we book 1 patient every hour and NEVER double-book!  And all of our session are 1-on-1 for the entire 60 minutes - the whole session is spent with you and your physical therapist.  We feel that this way provides the most effective treatments and best chance of success.

Conclusion

I hope this article has enlightened you on why you felt let down with your physical therapy experience and helped you identify if you need to make a change.

Physical therapy is a great solution for many aches and pains and I don't want you feeling let down by your experience with PT to bias your opinion and expectations of what PT can do for you.

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